I have been, and still am occasionally told that I am “mature for my age”, wise beyond my years”, etc. As of right now, I don’t really believe that, because I think it’s very much based on perception and not necessarily a fact. It kind of puts me into a category (which I’m not a fan of) as well as continue to give young generations a bad reputation.
In a way, I do understand that it’s a compliment; it’s saying that I live my life in a positive manner and it’s something that makes me unique. Yet, I don’t know if I’m at a point where I can embrace it rather than reject it.
There are quite a few reasons pertaining to why I consider it a gray area. After talking with my Mom, I asked myself Would certain things have happened already, had I not been living with this particular and advanced mindset? To put it in simpler terms, would my life be any different if I had spent most, if not all of it “acting my age”?
In order to figure that out, it’s important to go back to where it all started.
From the time I was a little girl, I always wanted to be older: when I was five, I wanted to be ten. When I was ten, I wanted to be fourteen. And when I was fourteen, I wanted to be eighteen. My mind was always a certain number of years ahead of where I was supposed to be. And I think that was because I was frequently around adults. Even when I became a teenager, I was always gravitating toward those that were older than me.
The other thing that probably has been playing a key role is the concept of self-reliance. As I’ve said in previous blog entries, the time when I was twelve/thirteen was a rainstorm. Even though now I know that it was hard for others because they didn’t know what to say or do to make it better. But during that time period, I learned to accept that I was alone.
For a long time,I depended on my own strength in order to get through it. The one positive element in all of it is that made an impact in regards to how I treat people, and that it’s important to really get to know someone before making judgments against them.
The walls came down for a little bit from eighth grade until my senior year of high school, when I was very much involved with my church; I openly discussed what I was struggling with at the time, and felt as though I had a strong sense of spiritual direction in ,my life.
Upon my high school graduation, the walls sort of came up again, but for different reasons and in different ways. It wasn’t because I didn’t think anybody understood me or that I was going through a difficult time, but rather because I figured that I was becoming an independent adult and that’s what adults were “supposed” to do. In other words, I rarely talked about the fact that I had cerebral palsy, I stopped asking for help (and hugs, for that matter) and I frequently pretended that things didn’t bother me when it was the exact opposite.
At the time, I didn’t necessarily think it was a terrible thing to do. I didn’t want pity from anyone or to make them feel obligated to take care of me. The biggest thing was that I didn’t want to cause any drama (especially with the guys).
Yet, what I tried to project as maturity probably was taken as a free pass to walk all over me. And you know what? That isn’t OK. Sure, there are times when one shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. On the other hand, there are also circumstances where a person needs to be told that what they did was hurtful. The tricky aspect is knowing when to speak up or when to let go.
In the midst of all that, I saw that I wasn’t taking care of myself, and that I had needs that I wasn’t fulfilling out of fear of what my peers would think.
I guess the one thing I worry about is not necessarily coming across as older, but rather appearing/seeming intimidating to others, for whatever reason. To be honest, I don’t understand how that would even happen. I consider myself to be friendly and easily approachable. Then again, it’s like looking at two different sides of a notebook: one side is some sort of color or design, and the backside is plain brown. What I see may not be what others see.
There’s a part of me that thinks that it has a lot to do with the fact that I have a blog; that people may think that what I blog about reflects how I am in person. In a lot of ways, that is not true. I don’t use big words in normal conversation, I don’t have heart-to-heart’s all the time, and I’m not as deep as I appear to be in my writing. My speaking voice and my writing voice both have a lot to do with my personality, but they’re not the same thing.
Yet when all is said and done, I’ve discovered that I do genuinely appreciate my attitude and the way I live my life. Sure, it might be a little odd that I take comfort in watching TV shows like Extreme Make-Over: Home Edition or Oprah, (technically OWN now) but those are things that help me to grow as a person and keep life in perspective.
Overall, if something helps or allows one to become a better person because of that element in their life, then what is there to be ashamed of? The better question would be, why should they be ashamed of it?
Maturity is something that I am currently thankful before due to the way that I am now communicating with my parents (well, my Mom at least. It will take some time with Dad). When I was in high school and for most of my freshman year of college, I usually never let them in on what was going on in my life. But now that I am becoming an adult, it has enabled me to sit down with them and say “this is how I feel and this is what I think.” It’s not an easy thing to do all the time, but it’s a start.
And that is something that I hope to do with my friends. There have been circumstances both in the past and present where I haven’t exactly spoken up about it out of not knowing how to approach them or fear that they weren’t going to take it very well. But now that we’re getting older, I hope it’s something we’ll both become comfortable with, in terms of things that need to be talked about.
After writing all of this, I now see that it’s something that I have to deal with through whatever each day brings. Every person evolves differently and does so in there own time. I have finally just gotten to a point where I can accept myself physically, and hopefully soon there will come a point where I can accept myself emotionally as well.